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Football Cheese Ball

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close up shot of Football Cheese Ball garnished with green onions and served with ritz crackers
Our football cheese ball is yummy and addictive and is a great way to celebrate the big game.
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Table of Contents
  1. Football Cheese Ball Ingredients
  2. How to Make This Football Cheese Ball Recipe
  3. How to Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This football cheese ball is the perfect centerpiece for snacking when you are watching the big game. The irresistible combination of crispy bacon, cream cheese, and cheddar form the base for this fun appetizer which is then decorated to match the theme of the day. 

Cheese balls are a classic choice to serve to guests and they always seem to disappear in a flash. Check out our mini cheeseball bites and cheeseball recipe to add to your menu.

close up shot of Football Cheese Ball garnished with green onions and served with ritz crackers

Football Cheese Ball Ingredients

Football Cheese Ball raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons bottled ranch dressing (I used Hidden Valley Ranch original)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives, divided
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 12-ounce package center-cut bacon, cooked & crumbled, divided (this will yield about ¾ cup bacon crumbles)
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 slices white cheddar cheese from the deli and sliced thin
  • Serve with butter crackers like Ritz brand

PRO TIP:

If you do not want to get your white cheddar cheese from the deli, you can use a block of white cheddar cheese to make the football laces. You will want to make sure to cut it thin enough so that the cheese is pliable. You can also use a string cheese stick the same way by cutting it lengthwise into long strips then into smaller strips. 

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

BACON: Do not use thick-sliced bacon for the bacon bits in this recipe. Center cut works best because it is less fatty and not too thick to mix with the cream cheese.

Another great option is the Ready-Cook bacon. Just cook it according to package directions in the microwave, and make sure that you have ¾ total bacon crumbles. This is a great option if you do not like to make a mess in the kitchen cooking your bacon on the stovetop.

RANCH: For the bottle of ranch dressing, feel free to use your favorite brand. My suggestion is to use a thicker and creamier one. Another option is to mix 3 tablespoons of sour cream with 2 tablespoons of dry ranch packet mix. You will add that to your cream cheese instead of the bottled ranch dressing.

SPICE: Kick it up a notch by adding a dash of hot sauce to the cream cheese mixture.

NUTS: If you prefer the taste of pecans more than walnuts, then they make a great alternative for this cheese ball.

How to Make This Football Cheese Ball Recipe

STEP ONE: In a large skillet, on medium-low heat, cook your bacon until crisp (this can take anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes). Once cooked, drain your bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Once cooled, chop your bacon, then set it aside.

PRO TIP:

I like to pre-chop my raw bacon before cooking it. It cooks a little faster and yields more evenly sized bacon crumbles.

STEP TWO: In a large bowl, with a rubber spatula, combine the softened cream cheese, ranch dressing, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Cream together until smooth and all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Football Cheese Ball process shot of ingredients in a bowl

STEP THREE: Add the finely shredded cheddar cheese and ½ cup of the bacon crumbles. Gently fold them into the cream cheese mixture until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

PRO TIP:

I like using the bagged, pre-shredded cheese for this recipe because you can buy the very finely shredded kinds, and it tends to mix into the cream cheese better and not clump up. However, if you prefer to shred your own cheese, I suggest you place your block of cheese into the freezer about 20 minutes prior to shredding it. It helps the cheese shred better on the fine side of your box grater.

Football Cheese Ball process shot of ingredients being combined in a bowl

STEP FOUR: Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on your counter or cutting board. You will transfer all your bacon cheddar ranch mixture to the center of the plastic wrap in a rough ball.

Football Cheese Ball process shot of mixture placed on plastic wrap

STEP FIVE: Pull up the two long sides of the plastic wrap to cover the cheese mixture and gently shape the mixture into the shape of a football. It is much easier to do this while the plastic wrap is covering the cheese mixture. As you shape the cheese football, you will just tuck in the short sides of the plastic wrap to ensure that the cheese mixture is covered completely.

Football Cheese Ball process shot of mixture shaped into a football

STEP SIX: Transfer the football-shaped bacon cheddar ranch cheese ball, while still wrapped in the plastic wrap, onto a plate and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the cream cheese ball to hold its shape as a football.

STEP SEVEN: Once your bacon cheddar ranch cheese football has been refrigerated, you can place the remaining bacon, chives, and chopped walnuts onto a large plate, or a large pie plate works well also.

Football Cheese Ball process shot of ingredients on a plate

STEP EIGHT: Unwrap your football cheeseball and very carefully place it onto the plate of chopped walnut mixture. Using your hands, gently coat the outside of the cheeseball with the nut mixture, being careful to keep the football shape. Once your cheese football is completely covered, then transfer it to your serving plate.

PRO TIP:

If you prefer, you can lightly toast your walnuts before chopping them. This adds a great elevated flavor but is not necessary. 

Football Cheese Ball process shot of Football Cheese Ball coated with the nut mixture

STEP NINE: You will garnish your football with “cheese” laces. To do this, you will slice two thin strips, about ¾ inch thick, from the long edge of one of the pieces of the deli sliced white cheddar cheese.

Football Cheese Ball process shot of slices of white cheddar cheese cut on a wooden board

STEP TEN: You will then slice, lengthwise, another two thin pieces, this time about an ⅛ to ¼ inch thick, of the deli white cheddar cheese. You will cut one of these very thin slices into four equal parts.

STEP ELEVEN: Using the two thick strips of the white cheddar cheese, lay one strip on one end, making sure that it drapes all the way from one side to the other on top of the football, and repeat with the other piece on the opposite side of the football. You will want to place these pieces about 2 to 3 inches up from each point on the football shape.

Football Cheese Ball process shot of white cheddar cheese strips placed on top of the cheese ball to resemble a football

STEP TWELVE: With the very thin pieces, you will place the long strip going lengthwise down the center of the middle of the football shape. You may need to trim your piece slightly so that it does not go all the way end to end and touch the thicker strips. Place the four smaller strips across the center strip of white cheddar cheese, making the laces pattern as seen on a football.

How to Serve

Guests at your Super Bowl party will love this sports-themed dish. It’s not only fun to look at but it is also delicious. Serve your cheesy football with a variety of dippers around the edge of the serving platter. Add Ritz crackers, pretzel chips, carrot sticks, celery sticks or any other items you like.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: This football cheese ball with bacon can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days in total.

IN THE FREEZER: We do not recommend freezing this cheese ball as the cream cheese would become watery when thawed.

close up shot of Football Cheese Ball garnished with green onions and served with ritz crackers

Football season just got even better with the perfect appetizer. Creamy cream cheese, tangy cheddar, and salty bacon combine to make a tasty cheese ball that helps you celebrate all the wins and excitement of the game.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I make this cheese ball ahead of time?

This is the perfect appetizer to make the day before. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours before serving.

Can I mix in other ingredients with the cheese and bacon?

The cheese ball ingredients are entirely customizable. If you would like to add other ingredients such as other spices, herbs or cheese, you should give it a try.

Can I add other types of cheese to the cheese ball?

Any cheese blend or type of shredded cheese can be used in this football cream cheese ball recipe.

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close up shot of Football Cheese Ball garnished with green onions and served with ritz crackers

Football Cheese Ball

5 from 1 vote
Our football cheese ball is yummy and addictive and is a great way to celebrate the big game.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings 20

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (two 8-ounce packages)
  • 3 tablespoons bottled ranch dressing, I used Hidden Valley Ranch original
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives divided
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese finely shredded
  • 12 ounces center-cut bacon, cooked & crumbled, divided (this will yield about ¾ cup bacon crumbles)
  • 1 cup walnuts finely chopped
  • 2 slices white cheddar cheese, from the deli and sliced thin
  • butter crackers like Ritz brand, to serve with

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet, on medium-low heat, cook your bacon until crisp (this can take anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes). Once cooked, drain your bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Once cooled, chop your bacon, then set it aside.
  • In a large bowl, with a rubber spatula, combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Cream together until smooth and all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  • Add the finely shredded cheddar cheese and ½ cup of the bacon crumbles. Gently fold them into the cream cheese mixture until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on your counter surface. You will transfer all your bacon cheddar ranch mixture to the center of the plastic wrap in a rough ball.
  • Pull up the two long sides of the plastic wrap to cover the cheese mixture and gently shape the mixture into a football shape. It is much easier to do this while the plastic wrap is covering the cheese mixture. As you shape the cheese football, you will just tuck in the short sides of the plastic wrap to ensure that the cheese mixture is covered completely.
  • Transfer the football-shaped bacon cheddar ranch cheese ball, while still wrapped in the plastic wrap, onto a plate and refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the cheese ball to hold its shape as a football.
  • Once your bacon cheddar ranch cheese football has been refrigerated, you can place the remaining bacon, chives, and chopped walnuts onto a large plate, or a large pie plate works well also.
  • Unwrap your football cheeseball and very carefully place it onto the plate of chopped walnut mixture. Using your hands, gently coat the outside of the cheeseball with the nut mixture, being careful to keep the football shape. Once your bacon cheddar cheese football is completely covered, then transfer it to your serving plate.
  • You will garnish your football with “cheese” laces. To do this, you will slice two thin strips, about ¾ inch thick, from the long edge of one of the pieces of the deli sliced white cheddar cheese.
  • You will then slice, length-wise, another two thin pieces, this time about an ⅛ to ¼ inch thick, of the deli white cheddar cheese. You will cut one of these very thin slices into four equal parts.
  • Using the two thick strips of the white cheddar cheese, lay one strip on one end, making sure that it drapes all the way from one side to the other, and repeat with the other piece on the opposite side of the football. You will want to place these pieces about 2 to 3 inches up from each point on the football shape.
  • With the very thin pieces, you will place the long one going lengthwise down the center of the middle of the football shape. You may need to trim your piece slightly so that it does not go all the way end to end and touch the thicker strips. Place the four smaller strips across the center strip of white cheddar cheese, making the laces pattern as seen on a football.

Notes

Note: If you do not want to get your white cheddar cheese from the deli, you can use a block of white cheddar cheese to make the football laces. You will want to make sure to cut it thin enough so that the cheese is pliable. You can also use a string cheese stick the same way by cutting it lengthwise into long strips then into smaller strips. 
 
Note: I like to pre-chop my raw bacon before cooking it. It cooks a little faster and yields more evenly sized bacon crumbles.
 
Note: I like using the bagged, pre-shredded cheese for this recipe because you can buy the very finely shredded kinds, and it tends to mix into the cream cheese better and not clump up. However, if you prefer to shred your own cheese, I suggest you place your block of cheese into the freezer about 20 minutes prior to shredding it. It helps the cheese shred better on the fine side of your box grater.
 
Note: If you prefer, you can lightly toast your walnuts before chopping them. This adds a great elevated flavor but is not necessary.

Nutrition

Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 356mg | Potassium: 109mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 474IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 1mg
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